BROKESBY, Bartholomew (d.1448), of Frisby-on-the-Wreak, Leics.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

yr. bro. of William Brokesby*. m. 1s., 1s. illegit.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Warws. and Leics. 10 Dec. 1411-3 Nov. 1412, 23 Nov. 1419-16 Nov. 1420.

Steward of the estates of Abp. Arundel of Canterbury c.1412-Mar. 1414.

J.p. Leics. 3 Feb. 1413-Feb. 1415, 14 July 1422-d.

Commr. of arrest, Leics. Feb., May 1413; inquiry, Kent Jan. 1414 (lollards), Salop Oct. 1413 (wastes, Fitzwaryn inheritance), Leics. May 1423 (murder), Suss., Salop Nov. 1424 (estates late of Thomas, earl of Arundel), Leics. Nov. 1424 (Scrope estates), Oct. 1439, Feb. 1443 (escape of felons), Feb. 1448 (concealments); array Mar. 1419, Aug. 1436; to raise royal loans, Leics., Warws. Nov. 1419, Leics. Mar. 1422, July 1426, May 1428, Leics., Warws. Mar. 1430, Mar. 1431, Leics. Feb. 1436, Mar. 1439, Nov. 1440, Mar. 1442, June 1446; assess subsidy on landed income Jan. 1436; enforce statutes against forestalling and regrating Jan. 1439; of gaol delivery, Leicester Oct. 1440;1 to treat for payment of parliamentary subsidies, Leics. Feb. 1441.

Steward, liberty of Bury St. Edmunds abbey, Suff. 6 Feb. 1431-aft. Apr. 1439.2


Bartholomew Brokesby, a younger son who inherited little if anything of his father’s property, acquired substantial landed holdings in the course of a long and successful career as a lawyer and professional steward. Not far from the family home at Shoby he purchased land at Frisby, Brooksby, Melton Mowbray and elsewhere, while from 1423 he had an interest in the manor of Hill in Cottingham and part of that of West Hall in Carlton over the border in Northamptonshire, where he also farmed ‘Retherby’ manor on a lease issued by Chacombe priory.3

Brokesby’s career had begun by July 1408 when he acted as surety in the Exchequer for (Sir) John Pelham*, and it seems likely that he had already formed an attachment to Pelham’s patron, Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury; certainly, he was a mainpernor for Arundel’s lease of the royal manor of Shene, granted in October 1409, by which date he had probably already joined the archbishop’s household. His brother William, marshal of the King’s hall, was sheriff of Leicestershire when Bartholomew was returned as knight of the shire to the Parliament summoned three months later, following Arundel’s resignation of the great seal and the accession to power of the prince of Wales and his mentors the Beauforts. Without doubt he remained attached to the political interest of the archbishop, leader of that ‘conservative’ party supporting the King, for later in 1410 the citizens of Norwich, seeking Arundel’s favour in their bid to secure the alnage of worsted cloth in Norfolk, made Brokesby a gift of a length of fabric valued at 30s. Significant of Brokesby’s political predilections is his appointment as sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire in 1411, just when the Beaufort faction was in the course of being ousted and shortly before Arundel’s re-appointment as chancellor. Not long afterwards Arundel made him steward of the archiepiscopal estates, and from February to September 1413 he was engaged in supervising building works at Leeds castle (Kent), then in his lord’s possession. That a personal liking and trust developed between the two men may be deduced from certain provisions of Arundel’s will, made on his deathbed on 17 Mar. 1414, for Brokesby was named among the executors and received a bequest of a Bible in two volumes covered with red velvet.4

Like his brother, William, Brokesby enlisted for military service on Henry V’s first expedition to France: he took out royal letters of protection in June 1415 and was mustered with a small troop of a lance and six archers under the banner of the duke of York.5 But this experience of warfare, to which he was evidently not suited, was never repeated. Following his return home he devoted his energies primarily to the affairs of Archbishop Arundel’s niece, Joan Fitzalan, widow of William, Lord Beauchamp of Abergavenny, within a short time becoming her principal legal agent and counsellor. Brokesby’s connexion with Lady Joan had probably been forged as early as 1412 and by Michaelmas 1416 he was acting as one of the trustees of the estates which John, Lord Arundel and Mautravers, warranted to her for life on condition that she would not implead him for the earldom of Arundel (she being sister and coheir of the late Earl Thomas). A similar task fell to him over the years 1417-19 when Lady Joan purchased from the coheirs of Joyce, Lady Burnell, the reversion of two-thirds of the substantial Botetourt inheritance, then held for life by Hugh, Lord Burnell. The main preoccupation of the last years of the latter’s life was to benefit his friend Lady Joan: in the will he made in 1417 he gave her everything he had and appointed her closest advisors — Brokesby and Walter Keble — to assist her in the duties of executorship.6

In the spring of 1418 the lady of Abergavenny and her followers were responsible for major civil disturbances in Warwickshire; she was required to undertake under pain of £1,200 to keep the peace in future, while Brokesby was among those of her retainers bound in £200 each to do likewise. Lady Joan often used Brokesby as her agent to make presentations to ecclesiastical livings in her patronage, and relied on him to stand surety for her at the Exchequer. Thus, in November 1420 he provided guarantees that she would make payments of 200 marks and £100 respectively for custody of the Mytton ward and of the late (Sir) Ralph Arderne’s* estates. Not long afterwards he attended the Leicestershire elections to Parliament, witnessing the return of James Bellers, who in the following March was to name him as an overseer of his will.7 In November 1427, while Brokesby’s own fourth Parliament was in session, he shared with Sir Richard Hastings† and others a lease at the Exchequer of the estates recently held in dower by the widow of Henry, Lord Beaumont, for the duration of the minority of Beaumont’s heir. Thus began a close association with the latter, Lord John (afterwards Viscount Beaumont), who in 1438 was to ask him to be godfather to his second son, William (his eventual successor), and a few years later to be trustee of certain family properties.8 In the meantime, the lady of Abergavenny had been party to various transactions with her nephew John, duke of Norfolk, and in 1428 she and her feoffees, including Brokesby, were associated with him in the acquisition of a manor in Essex. When, in December that year, a long and costly lawsuit between certain of Norfolk’s retainers and a Coventry yeoman was put to the arbitration of Brokesby and others, the duke paid his expenses at Coventry for two days and nights. By then Brokesby had been made a trustee of those lands which Lady Joan had inherited from her late brother the earl of Arundel, and in 1430 he became her co-feoffee of the estates in four counties owned by her son-in-law James, 4th earl of Ormond, for the purpose of effecting an entail in favour of her grandsons. At the end of the year she wrote to the abbot of Bury St. Edmunds to recommend him for the stewardship of the abbatial liberty (a post in her patronage), he being ‘a man that I trust to God shal rule hym so to yow in that office that God and yeo shal be pleasid withal’. He was duly appointed in preference to the candidate put forward by Lord Grey of Ruthin. During Brokesby’s sixth and last Parliament, in 1432, his lady petitioned the Crown to point out errors of record in the suit proceeding in the King’s bench with regard to her Chancery recognizance of 1418, it being alleged that she should incur forfeiture of £1,200 for abetment of an assault at Birmingham in her dispute with Lord Ferrers of Chartley (an affray in which, incidentally, Brokesby’s nephew Henry had been a party as one of her retainers); but it was not until the next Parliament (1433) that she secured a reduction of the sum forfeited. When Lady Joan made her will on 10 Jan. 1435 she appointed among her executors Brokesby and Robert Darcy*, and it was on these two and Walter Keble that the brunt of the administration was to fall. All her wards with their marriages and livelihood were to be under their governance, and they were to have custody of all the ‘stuffe’at Abergavenny castle bequeathed to her grandson and heir, Sir James Ormond (afterwards earl of Wiltshire), until he reached the age of discretion. Brokesby and Keble alone were to provide for the obsequies at her burial place at Hereford and be present there in person every year on the day of her obit. Brokesby received personal bequests of a bed of black and red silk, a considerable quantity of gold and silver plate, lavishly embroidered wall hangings and his lady’s best gown trimmed with martens’ fur. After her death he was responsible for arranging for masses to be said at Leicester abbey for her soul’s welfare.9 For the rest of his life Brokesby continued to act in the posthumous interests of Lady Joan and her heir. Nor was this an easy task: he and Darcy had trouble with one of the Botetourt coheirs, Sir Maurice Berkeley† of Uley, and, eventually being bound to stand to the ordinance of Richard, earl of Warwick, they were forced to relinquish the property in dispute. The estates which he continued to hold in trust included those allotted to him and his co-feoffees after the death in 1439 of Beatrice, dowager countess of Arundel, and from 1447 he also served as Sir James Ormond’s feoffee of part of his inheritance. All this time he had retained 700 marks of Lady Joan’s money to the use of Thomas Ormond, the heir’s brother.10

Since the start of Henry VI’s reign, Brokesby had also been kept busy as a j.p. in Leicestershire and as a member of many other royal commissions. Among the most important of his duties was that of raising loans for the Crown, and it is not surprising to find him joining with Darcy and John Doreward† in 1435 to make one such loan, of 260 marks, nor in the next year being requested by the Council first to lend £40 and then 100 marks for the equipment of the army about to be sent to France under the duke of York. Brokesby’s standing at this time is clear from those with whom he was closely associated: Sir Robert Moton† of Peckleton was prepared to be bound in 400 marks to secure the settlement for the marriage of his son Reynold to Brokesby’s niece Margaret Bugge; Ralph, Lord Cromwell, and John, Lord Beaumont, both witnessed the grant he made to the priory of Kirby Bellars in 1438; and by 1447 the trustees of his landed holdings included not only Beaumont but also Sir James Ormond and Richard Bingham, j.KB. The prior of Kirby and Justice Bingham were among his executors.11

Brokesby died on 15 Aug. 1448 and was buried in a marble tomb in the chancel of Owston church. Two years later his executors obtained a licence from the diocesan to found a chantry for two chaplains at Saxelby, where prayers might be offered for the soul of Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, as well as for that of Brokesby himself, in accordance with the instructions given in his will (which has not survived). The escheator of Leicestershire had returned that Brokesby’s nearest kinsman in blood was his brother Edward, said to be over 80 years old; but he did leave a legitimate son, John, as well as a bastard named William. Brokesby’s earnings, mainly accumulated in the service of the Fitzalans, gave John both wealth and standing: in 1453 he was contracted to marry a daughter of Sir Leonard Hastings†, who was prepared to offer 300 marks as dowry; and in later years as his brother-in-law he could call on Edward IV’s chamberlain and friend William, Lord Hastings, to be a trustee of his estates.12

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Authors: J. S. Roskell / L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Leics. Village Notes ed. Farnham, v. 16.
  • 2. Procs. Suff. Inst. Arch. xxx. 261; Add. 14848, ff. 82, 92v, 342v.
  • 3. Leics. Village Notes, ii. 260-1; iv. 113; CAD, i. C1110; J. Nichols, Leics. iii. 191, 969; CCR, 1419-22, pp. 105, 106; 1441-7, pp. 343, 474; 1447-54, pp. 17, 172; Bodl. Wood empt. 7.
  • 4. CFR, xiii. 114, 161; Recs. Norwich ed. Hudson and Tingey, ii. 57; E101/466/25; Sede Vacante Wills (Kent Arch. Soc. iii), 81-85; Reg. Chichele, iv. 28; F.R.H. DuBoulay, Ldship. Canterbury, 394 (where Brokesby is not mentioned but Gregory Ballard is given as steward 1400-12).
  • 5. DKR, xliv. 568; E101/45/2.
  • 6. CIMisc. vii. 434; CCR, 1419-22, pp. 86-90, 156, 167-8, 176, 183; Ancestor, viii. 177-9; Reg. Chichele, ii. 217; CPR, 1416-22, pp. 302, 305-6.
  • 7. CCR, 1413-19, p. 500; C219/12/4; Lincs. AO, Reg. Flemyng, f. 230; CPR, 1416-22, p. 306; CFR, xiv. 440; Reg. Chichele, i. 232; HMC Hastings, i. 7.
  • 8. CFR, xv. 203, 211-12, 228-9; De Antiquis Legibus Liber (Cam. Soc. xxxiv), pp. cciii-iv; CCR, 1441-7, pp. 29, 135; Wm. Salt. Arch. Soc. xi. 235.
  • 9. Huntington Lib. San Marino, Hastings mss, HAD 4/80, 31/498-9, 112/1734-5, 127/2038; CPR, 1422-9, p. 486; 1429-36, pp. 27, 295, 506; E101/514/17; RP, iv. 410-13, 445-6; Reg. Chichele, ii. 536-8; Nichols, i. app. p. 72.
  • 10. HMC Hastings, i. 1-2; CCR, 1435-41, pp. 317, 322-3, 327, 422; 1447-54, p. 358; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. vii. 251; CPR, 1436-41, pp. 435, 446; 1441-6, p. 241; CAD, ii. B2805; vi. C6330.
  • 11. CPR, 1429-36, p. 467; PPC, iv. 323, 325; Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xvii. 106-8, 128; C1/22/114; CAD, ii. B3236, 3241.
  • 12. C139/136/43; C141/5/13; Nichols, ii. 763; Lincs. AO, Reg. Lumley, xix. f. 14; HMC Hastings, i. 300-1; CCR, 1454-61, p. 289; 1461-8, p. 190.